Indonesian online stock trading platform Ajaib—the fastest startup in the country to become a unicorn—acquired a 24% stake in Bank Bumi Arta for 746 billion rupiah (about $50 million) last week. The deal is the latest in a flurry of acquisitions in the Indonesian banking space by tech companies to tap into the Southeast Asian country’s sizeable unbanked population.
According to a filing with the Indonesia Stock Exchange on Friday, Ajaib bought 554,000 shares of Bank Bumi Arta on November 17. “We hope to continue helping improve financial inclusion and supporting SMEs in Indonesia through technology,” Anderson Sumarli, cofounder and CEO of Ajaib, said in a text message.
Ajaib was founded in 2018 by Sumarli and Yada Piyajomkwan, who met as M.B.A. students at Stanford University. Sumarli and Piyajomkwan were honorees of last year’s 30 Under 30 Asia list.
In October, Ajaib reached a valuation of $1 billion after raising $153 million in a financing round led by Israeli-Russian billionaire Yuri Milner’s DST Global. The startup’s other investors include Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing’s Horizons Ventures, SoftBank Ventures and Insignia Ventures. Ajaib is the seventh unicorn to emerge from Indonesia, after GoTo, Bukalapak, Traveloka, Ovo, J&T Express, and Xendit.
In recent months, big money has been pouring into the Indonesian banking sector from tech companies. Previously, Elang Mahkota Teknologi (Emtek), owned by Indonesian billionaire Eddy Kusnadi Sariaatmadja, acquired 93% of Bank Fana Internasional for 908 billion rupiah ($64 million). Another recent example is credit lender Kredivo, which spent 439 billion rupiah ($31 million) to acquire a majority stake in Bank Bisnis Internasional. And at the end of last year, Gojek (renamed to GoTo Group after merging with Indonesian e-commerce platform Tokopedia in May) acquired Bank Jago for 2.25 trillion rupiah ($157 million) through its e-wallet arm Dompet Karya Anak Bangsa.
Indonesia is a huge market for digital banking. According to a Statistics Indonesia survey in 2020, only 40.3% of the Indonesian population, or 80.27 million people, have bank accounts. Meanwhile, Statistics Indonesia also recorded that smartphone penetration has reached 63% last year, which indicates that the Indonesian people have the infrastrucutre for digital banking.